RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bowling alley owner, a hotel general manager and a local hip-hop artist invested about $100,000 to create Wine Stork, a wine delivery business that services the Richmond community.
“Anybody that drinks wine, we want you to come to the site and spend some money with us,” said Rob Long, part owner of Wine Stork and owner of River City Roll in Richmond. “Instead of Total Wine or your traditional retailers.”
Long said he met one of his business partners, Faith Waldron, known as Faith Boogie, when Waldron performed at his bowling alley in 2019. He and Wyck Baruch, a hotel general manager in the Richmond area and the other partial owner, have been friends for years.
Wine Stork launched in Decemeber 2020 to a select group of people, offering free shipping for feedback. Waldron said the company gets its wine from suppliers across the commonwealth. Since Jan. 1., the online retailer has delivered over 100 orders. The company delivers orders within two days.
As of right now, Wine Stork delivers locally and ships to localities outside of the Richmond metropolitan area.
Unlike Total Wine, Wine Stork offers a variety of the owners’ favorite blends in order to make the selection process easier for customers.
Waldron said once the group decided on opening the business, everything started coming together. The company is trying to expand outside of the commonwealth. With the possibility of expanding across the country, the group sees a chance to leave a stamp on the industry.
“I think the opportunity we have as a brand, where some of the traditional wine companies are marketing towards an older, more exclusive demographic,” Long said. “We want Stork to be something everybody feels comfortable going to.”
When asked why start an online wine business during a global pandemic? Long said he understands why most people have concerns, but the pandemic actually helped them.
“E-commerce is a little more COVID resilient than traditional brick and mortar retail,” Long shared.
Currently, the largest online alcohol market is China, but The International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR), a source for data for the global beverage alcohol market, said data trends show that the United States will overtake China by the end of 2021. IWSR said on their website, 44 percent of alcohol e-shoppers just started buying their alcohol online in 2020.
Waldron shared that Wine Stork reflects the business owners as well as the community they serve.
“Richmonders, and the people we serve have diverse backgrounds, so the wine on our site reflects that,” Waldron said.
And as for what the future holds for Wine Stork, Long said e-commerce makes the trio’s goal of getting wine readily available across Central Virginia and beyond, a lot easier.
“Wine Stork, the sky is the limit, right?” Long said. “I mean if we get to 16 states — the beauty of e-commerce is like you’re not just selling to the people within five miles of you. The customer base is almost unlimited in terms of numbers.”
Long said although the business is doing great, you can always do better.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied,” he shared. “The three of us are just entrepreneurial in nature, hungry, always wanting to be better, always wanting to be bigger.”